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SURGERY FOR EPILEPSY: CALLOSOTOMY

Another type of operation is sometimes considered for someone who has very severe epilepsy in which the seizures arise all over the brain and cause ‘drop attacks’ during which they may be badly hurt. This is callosotomy, an operation to cut, either partially or completely, the nerve tracts (corpus callosum) that connect the two halves of the brain. Occasionally the operation is also offered to people with severe partial complex seizures.
Usually about a third of the corpus callosum is cut to begin with. If this does not prove successful, another third of the fibres will be cut, and finally a total split may be made.
Success of callosotomy
Callosotomy will not end the seizures, but it will change their nature. The operation will stop the seizures spreading from one side of the brain to the other, which in turn will help prevent the drop attacks. Between 65 and 100 per cent of patients have at least a 50 per cent reduction in drop attacks, rising to nearer 100 per cent some time after the operation.
Some patients are mute for a few days after the operation, but, perhaps surprisingly, it has been found that full callosotomy proves to be no more of a disadvantage to the patient than partial callosotomy. There may be some unwanted effects, for example a lack of co-ordination between the two hands.
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